Ever since I started attending the University of Waterloo it has been a tradition for me and my aunts to take a trip down to the local menswear store “Loop”, located in uptown Waterloo. The store was the only clothing store within miles of the University that provided a catalog of clothing suited for the student market. Earlier on I used to love visiting the store but the more I went the ignorance towards their customers and the lack of service they provided became more evident and obvious.
I have a strong passion for clothing and I believe that it's not just about the piece of fabric you buy but the experience that comes with it, from the store to the staff, every aspect of buying it should make it that much more special. This Project was not only inspired by what stores like “Loop” can learn from their customers but also the experiences I enjoyed personally from the surrounding businesses in Waterloo that truly knows the meaning of Customer service.
The overall purpose for this self-motivated project is to redesign the outdated way of selling clothing. It has become boring and a lot of businesses are losing money to online stores that offer the same service. I am going to go through my concept of a store that I believe can transform the landscape of menswear. Here is the demographic:
Location: Waterloo, Ontario.
Target Market: Mostly males but doesn’t exclude females.
Age group: 18-25.
My personal goals for this project
This project was meant for me to use my UX skills in a different environment that's not creating a website or developing an application. I wanted to:
Conduct and analyze my own research, which included surveying and interviewing users.
Develop a floor plan that can display my thoughts and Ideas.
Apply my skillset of UX and customer service together
Create something that I like and tests my skills and knowledge
Keep ideas and thoughts on paper but use some aspects of software design.
User Research and Analysis
Before I began this project I conducted an interview and survey on 20 Students who enjoy shopping in store rather than online and whats the most important thing when it comes to clothing stores.
To simplify things I have made a pie chart out of the answers they gave me:
What I gathered from their answers was that they are not receiving quality service or a unique experience. I believe that this is why so many retail clothing stores are quickly getting replaced by online shops. Every customer should have gained a memorable experience from visiting a store, whether it be the structure and interior or the services provided by the store.
Other insights I pulled from research
People enjoy big department stores such as Nordstrom because they include bars, restaurants, and cafes.
Customers hate when they get harassed by employees constantly.
Knowledgable employees and staff are preferred.
The environment of the store matters.
The typical persona of a shopper in Waterloo
For my interviews, I wanted to talk to students around a medium age of 20 to see their insights and experience shopping for clothing in Waterloo. Based on the information I received from the group of students a crafted a single persona board that has some if not most of the characteristics of the people I talked to.
Aside from all the clothing store questions I also asked the users what environments they enjoy spending long periods of time in and the majority said coffee shops. The reason being, it provides them with a space to study and relax that’s away from home. With the information and suggestions, I received I was ready to start designing what I think is the next step for retail clothing stores.
Initial designs and concepts
After taking all the surveys and creating the user persona I decided to jot down some ideas and concepts for my store. Here are a few of them:
My Idea to solve the retail issue in Waterloo is to make a clothing store that incorporates a cafe inside of it that suits the shopper persona of Derek Lam. The reason why I believe this idea will work is that coffee shops provide something clothing stores lack and that is a reason for people to stay. Clothing stores in Waterloo often times struggle to bring customers in, while coffee shops have been very successful in attracting new customers. The attributes of each business together can provide an experience customers are missing out on. Here are some benefits of this concept:
People will most likely buy coffee after browsing or purchasing clothing.
People there for coffee may browse for clothes.
Provides a unique experience that differentiates from the rest.
Brings customers in the store for longer periods of time.
Here is a floor plan of my concept:
Here I have divided each section and the purpose it serves.
The top portion is where you will find the clothing and footwear. It is also the first thing you will notice when you walk in. It is separated by a wall that has a door free opening meant for easy transition between it and the cafe.
The bottom left is the cafe portion of the business, there is an L shaped bar that will be the order and the pickup location. There is also seating for 14 people leaving enough room for people to study and relax.
This will be a couch section that includes a tv for special days that will be reserved for days where we will allow students to play video games watch movies and more.
The importance of customer service
As I mentioned earlier great customer service is the backbone of any business. We have all felt the growing frustration of waiting unnecessarily, being ignored, pressured into buying or facing inefficiency when shopping. In these tough times, customers are more and more likely to reject bad service when an online store can offer the same products and price without the hassle. Retailers can no longer view customer service as an option and providing a positive retail customer experience is vital. A coherent and successful retail service model is the differentiating factor between a successful and unsuccessful business. My experience in customer service in jobs like Shoppers Drug Mart has taught me that when a customer is given a positive and memorable experience they are more than likely to return shopping to that specific store. .That is what is needed in Waterloo and that's what I hope my redesign will be known for not just the clothing and coffee.
What I learned so far
This project is something that was developed from my personal interests and excitement to test my user experience skills. I have come up with a lot of ideas and progress into solving this issue. There are plenty of things that I can still improve upon such as:
For a project like this, there is always more research to do. When I return to this project full time I plan to visit as many stores as possible and take notes to apply to this case. I would also like to visit stores that are known for their quality service and experience and see their why’s and how’s to see what more can be learned and applied.
To conclude this project was very interesting to work on, It all started out as an idea I had thought of when I went through experiences of poor customer service with my aunts here in Waterloo. In the future, I would love to come back and improve upon this idea and maybe one day turn it into a reality. I would love to take this concept and make my own store, but first and foremost I have to dedicate my time and resources into laying down the ground work. I hope you enjoyed this project and took something away from it as this can easily be applied to any location.